The overwhelming onslaught of small SUVs reminds us of the tech and housing booms. And we keep waiting for this bubble to burst as well. When is there enough?! Well, Honda thinks there’s room for one more. And if the new HR-V is anything like the CR-V, we’ll have to agree.
It’s also highly likely that lots of buyers will agree there’s plenty of room in the marketplace for the 2016 Honda HR-V. Now, if fuel prices were at the levels of a year ago it would be a slam dunk.
Still, the ace in this fun-size ute’s hole may be its kinship to the Fit, which the HR-V has a lot more in common with than the larger CR-V. And that means there’s a very solid chassis for driving enjoyment, and Magic Seats inside for unrivaled versatility.
There’s 24.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat, and a maximum of 58.8 with the seats folded flat. Both numbers larger than Fit and well above direct crossover rivals.
In addition, you can fully recline the front passenger seat for extra-long items. And of course, with the 2nd row Magic Seat folded up, there’s room for items that are taller than many mid-size crossovers can handle.
There’s a familiarity to much of the 5-passenger HR-V’s switchgear and displays, yet the layout appears truly unique to the Honda lineup, as are the touch-based automatic climate controls in EX and EX-L trim. There is good use of soft touch materials, and an available 7-inch touchscreen for infotainment.
The expected youthful flair is present; with a plethora of caffeine and juice box holders, along with a two level center console, with lots of storage space below. It also has Honda’s first electric parking brake.
Front seats could use a little more bolstering and long distance comfort, but they are perfectly fine for commuting duty. The rear seats also offer adequate comfort, and there’s more leg room back here than expected.
A multi-angle rearview camera is standard, and navigation is optional. A large, central, analog speedometer highlights the gauge panel, with tachometer to the left, and info display to the right.
Finding our way to the engine bay, we discover a normally aspirated, single-cam, 1.8-liter I4. Lifted not from the Fit, but from the compact Civic, with a class competent 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque.
Having that power pass through a thrill-sucking CVT may not sound promising, but the HR-V feels quite peppy and Honda’s CVT is better than most. A 6-speed manual is available as well, but only with front-wheel-drive.
All-wheel-drive models add the CR-V’s automatic Real Time system with Intelligent Control, which just means there’s nothing to turn on, as it sends power rearward whenever the front wheels start slipping. It’s primarily for all-weather duties; though it certainly performs just fine in dirt or gravel road situations as well.
Coupe-like styling is present, which is industry speak for hidden rear door handles and chunky C-pillars. That helps to give it more a “higher ground clearance Civic hatchback appearance” rather than just a Fit on steroids. Wheelbase is 3.2-inches longer than the Fit, at 102.8; with overall length at 169.1-inches. 17-inch alloy wheels are standard.
The hunkered down look also favors the short-lived Accord Crosstour, yet it’s far more attractive, and with its stylish front end, it will be one of the most agreeable offerings in a segment that includes the antagonistic Nissan Juke and cartoonish Jeep Renegade.
Suspension duties are handled by MacPherson struts up front, with a torsion beam in the rear. They deliver a very good ride quality for such a short wheelbase vehicle, with tuning that makes the HR-V feel “beefed-up” compared to the Fit. Cabin noise is also more subdued.
Expect safety to be first rate, with a full suite of airbags and features like Honda LaneWatch available.
Most small vehicles are bought with fuel economy as a priority. And here Government Ratings come in at 28-City, 35-Highway, and 31-Combined for 2-wheel-drive; and 27-City, 32-Highway, and 29-Combined for all-wheel-drive.
At $19,995, a front drive manual HR-V neatly slots between the Fit and CR-V. A CVT adds $800. All-wheel drive start at $22,045.
Well it looks like there is indeed room for one-more small crossover. So Honda dealers, prepare to clear some space. Though not too much, as while the all-new 2016 Honda HR-V offers plenty of it inside, it doesn’t take up a whole lot of it outside. And, we don’t think they’ll stick around your lot very long.
Engine: 1.8 liter I4
Torque: 127 lb-ft.
EPA: 28 mpg city/ 35 mpg highway